When former President Jimmy Carter speaks to the graduates of
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on May 3, the listeners might bear
in mind that Carter's reputation for principled concern for the downtrodden
is open to question. Carter has done some benevolent things after 1981, as
ex-President. He's built homes for the poor, spoken eloquently on behalf of
human rights, helped the Haitian dictator Cedras resign, and presided over
the negotiations ending the Yugoslav War.
While all of this is good, Carter presided over some serious war
crimes in the Third World. Despite Carter's reputation as the President who
placed human rights as the top priority for his foreign policy, any
examination of the actual policies behind the public relations initiative
reveals the Carter Administration's continuation of US support for
monstrous Third World regimes.
- Carter secretly supported the genocidal Pol Pot government ousted
by Vietnam in 1979. This secret support was essential to further punishment
of Vietnam for having successfully defended her own population against the
American invaders. US Indochina strategy also intended to outflank the
Vietnamese, who were aligned with the Soviet Union, and to back the Pol Pot
forces, aligned with China.
- Carter declared his support for the Shah of Iran-despite the
rampant torture practiced by the Shah's secret police in close
collaboration with the C.I.A.-more emphatically than Richard Nixon had:
"There is no leader with whom I have a deeper sense of personal friendship
- Following the Indonesians' 1975 invasion of East Timor, Carter
continued to arm Indonesia's army dictatorship as well as give diplomatic
support (vetoing U.N. resolutions to end the atrocities in the former
Portuguese colony). This war has killed more than 200,000 East Timorese,
making it the worst genocide relative to population since World War II.
Carter did nothing to pressure General Suharto (Indonesia's chief of state)
to end the war. He was an ally and major supporter of the Indonesian
military's repression of its own population, as well as the slaughter of
the East Timorese people. The army's murderous stranglehold on East Timor
will continue as long as the ruling military clique of Indonesia lets
transnational oil companies have a good share of East Timorese oil profits.
- During his watch, Carter aided and supported Nicaragua's
then-dictator Anastasio Somoza, who murdered and repressed tens of
thousands of his own people. When Somoza's forces were about to lose
control of the main cities, Carter attempted to launch an invasion under
the fig leaf of an intervention by the Organization of American States
(OAS). The OAS refused and Carter then planned to send the US military to
salvage Somoza's army, which was established by and beholden to the US
government-but it was too late. Carter made sure that Somoza was ferried
out of the country on a Red Cross-painted US aircraft. The C.I.A. under
Carter helped to re-establish Somoza's army as a terrorist force against
the people of Nicaragua. These "contras" assassinated social workers,
doctors and civilians, burned crops, and tried to exterminate any
possibility of social reform that the Sandinistas created.
These major crimes against the Third World warrant attention. As he
is introduced to the assembled graduates and their families, there will
doubtlessly be no verbal recollection of Carter's role in backing
oppression and violence. Instead, the introduction will likely pay homage
by echoing the major media's superficial trumpeting of Carter's devotion to
human rights and his Christian beliefs and good deeds as ex-President. If
Carter were more honest, instead of admitting to contemplating adultery as
in his infamous 1976 Playboy interview, he would admit his support of war
crimes to the thousands of Chapel Hill graduates.